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Cooke. 





0K617 
.C65 





EDIBLE 



AND 



POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 



EDIBLE 



AND 



POISONOUS MUSHROOMS: 



WHAT TO EAT AND WHAT TO AVOID. 



BY 

M. C. COOKE, M.A., LL.D., 
» « * 

AUTHOR OF "HANDBOOK OF BRITISH FUNGI," " FUNGI : THEIR 
NATURE, USES," "TOILERS IN THE SEA," ETC. 



WITH EIGHTEEN COLOURED PLATES 
ILLUSTRATING FORTY-EIGHT SPECIES. 



PUBLISHED UNDER THE DIRECTION OF THE GENERAL^* ***** 
LITERATURE COMMITTEE. 



LONDON : 
SOCIETY FOR PROMOTING CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE, 

NORTHUMBERLAND AVENUE, W.C. ; 
43, QUEEN VICTORIA STREET, E.C. 

New York: E. & J. B. YOUNG & CO. 
1894. 



>L,(P3 



CONTENTS. 



PAGE 



PREAMBLE 


l • • t 


y 


EDIBLE MUSHROOMS : 


RUDDY WARTY CAPS 




. 29 


DELICIOUS MILK-MUSHROOM 




. 31 


COMMON MUSHROOM ... 




. 33 


PARASOL MUSHROOM 




. 35 


st. george's mushroom 




. 37 


BLUE CAPS ... 




. 39 


FAIRY RING CHAMPIGNON ... 




. 41 


BLEWITS 




. 43 


DUSKY CAPS 




. 45 


VEGETABLE BEEF-STEAK 




. 47 


HORSE MUSHROOM ... 




. 49 


HEDGEHOG MUSHROOM 




. 51 


IYORY CAPS ... 




. 53 


INKY MUSHROOM 




.. 55 


SHAGGY CAPS 




.. 57 


LITTLE IVORY CAPS... 




.. 59 


GIANT PUFF BALL ... 




.. 61 


SWEETBREAD MUSHROOM 




.. 63 


HORN OF PLENTY ... 




.. 65 


CHANTARELLE 




.. 67 


EDIBLE BOLETUS 




.. 69 



VI CONTENTS. 

PAGE 

edible mushrooms (continued) : — 

BUFF CAPS ... ... ... ... ... 71 

WHITE HELVELLA ... ... ... ... 73 

COMMON MOREL ... ... ... ... 75 

LANKY MOREL ... ... ... ... 77 

TRUFFLE ... ... ... ... ... 79 

POISONOUS MUSHROOMS I 

FLY MUSHROOM ... ... ... ... 83 

CONIC LAWN MUSHROOM ... ... ... 85 

BUFF WARTY CAPS ... ... ... ... 87 

LIBERTY CAPS ... ... ... ... 89 

DUNG SLIMY CAPS ... ... ... ... 91 

CLUSTERED PINK-GILLS ... ... ... 93 

STYPTIC SIDEFOOT ... ... ... ... 95 

CLUSTERED YELLOW MUSHROOM ... ... 97 

SULPHURY MUSHROOM ... ... ... 99 

GREEN SLIMY CAPS ... ... ... ... 101 

MAGPIE MUSHROOM ... ... ... ... 103 

WOOD WOOLLY FOOT ... ... ... 105 

BITTER STRAW RUSSULE ... ... ... 107 

ACRID MILK-MUSHROOM ... ... ... 109 

SHAM MUSHROOM ... ... ... ... HI 

EMETIC RUSSULE ... ... ... ... 113 

FIERY MILK-MUSHROOM ... ... ... 115 

WOOLLY MILK-MUSHROOM ... ... .... 117 

WHITE WOOLLY MILK-MUSHROOM ... ... 119 

BITTER BOLETUS ... ... ... ... 121 

SATANIC BOLETUS ... ... ... ... 123 

LURID BOLETUS ... ... ... ... 125 



LIST OF ILLUSTKATIONS. 







EDIBLE MUSHROOMS. 


PLATE 


FIG. 






I. 


1. 


Ruddy Warty Caps 


... 


Amanita rubescens. 




2. 


Delicious Milk-Mushroom 


Lactarius deliciosus. 




3. 


Common Mushroom 


. .. 


Psalliota campestris. 


II. 


1. 


Parasol Mushroom 


... 


Lepiota procera. 




2. 


St. George's Mushroom ... 


Tricholoma gambosa. 


III. 


1. 


Blue Caps 


... 


Tricholoma nuda. 




2. 


Champignon 


... 


Marasmius oreades. 




3. 


Blewits ... 


... 


Tricholoma personata. 


IV. 


1. 


Dusky Caps 


... 


Clitoeybe nebularis. 




2. 


Beef-steak 


... 


Fistulina hepatica. 


V. 


1. 


Horse Mushroom 


... 


Psalliota arvensis. 




2. 


Hedgehog 


... 


Hydnum repandum. 




3. 


Ivory Caps 


•» . 


Hygrophorus virgineus. 


VI. 


1. 


Inky Mushroom ... 


... 


Coprinus atramentarius. 




2. 


Shaggy Caps 


... 


Coprinus comatus. 




3. 


Little Ivory Caps 


... 


Hygrophorus niveus. 


VII. 


1. 


Puff Ball 


... 


Lycoperdon bovista. 




2. 


Sweetbread 


... 


Clitopilus orcella. 




3. 


Horn of Plenty ... 


... 


Cratercllus cornucopioidcs, 




4. 


Chantarelle 


... 


Cantharellus cibarius. 


VIII. 


1. 


Edible Boletus ... 


••• 


Boletus edulis. 




2. 


Buff Caps 


... 


Hygrophorus pratcnsis. 


IX. 


1. 


White Helvella ... 


••• 


Helvella crispa. 




2. 


Morel 


••• 


Morchella esculenta. 




3. 


Lanky Morel 


••• 


Morchella semilibera. 




4. 


Truflle 


«•• 


Tuber cestivum. 



Vlll 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS. 



POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 



TLATE FIG. 

x. 1. Fly Agaric 

2. Conic Lawn Mushroom 

xi. 1. Buff Warty Caps 

2. Liberty Caps 

3. Dung Slimy Caps 
xn. 1. Wavy Pink Gills 

2. Styptic Sidefoot 
XIII. 1. Tufted Wood Mushroom 

2. Sulphury Mushroom 

3. Green Slimy Caps 
xiv. 1. Magpie 

2. Wood Woolly Foot 
XV. 1. Bitter Russule ... 

2. Acrid Milk-Mushroom 

3. Sham Mushroom 
XVI. 1. Emetic Russule ... 

2. Fiery Milk-Mushroom 

3. Shaggy Milk-Mushroom 
xvn. 1. White Milk-Mushroom 

2. Bitter Boletus ... 
xvill. 1. Satanic Boletus ... 

2. Lurid Boletus ... , 



Amanita muscaria. 
Hygrophorus conicus. 
Amanita plialloides. 
Psilocybe semilanceatus. 
Stropharia scmiglobata. 
Entoloma sinuatus. 
Panus stypticus. 
Hyplioloma fascicularis. 
Tricholoma sulphurca. 
Stropharia aeruginosa. 
Coprinus picaceus. 
Marasmius ■pcronatus. 
Russula fellea. 
Lactarius acris. 
Hcbcloma fastibilis. 
Russula emetica. 
Lactarius pyrogalus. 
Lactarius torminosus. 
Lactarius vellercus. 
Boletus /elicits. 
Boletus satanas. 
Boletus htridus. 






CO 

en 



PREAMBLE. 

It is an accepted fact that some fungi 
of the mushroom type are poisonous, whilst 
others are edible, but the problem to be 
solved is, which are good, and which are 
bad. To assist in the solution we have 
given an unusual quantity of coloured illus- 
trations of both kinds, and from these, 
in combination with a few practical obser- 
vations, we hope to render a satisfactory 
answer. It must, at the outset, be under- 
stood that there are no general rules, 
capable of universal application, whereby 
edible may at once be distinguished from 
poisonous fungi. Our task would be an 
easy one if such a "royal road' could be 
^ discovered, but unfortunate] y every effort 

2^ 

«=£ 
~3 



10 PREAMBLE. 

to apply general rules has failed, and no 
possible course remains but to become 
acquainted with every individual species 
which we resolve to eat, and, collaterally, 
those which we should specially avoid. 
It may not be out of place to remark 
that there are some features manifested in 
connection with poisonous or disagreeable 
fungi which should be borne in mind, as 
tending to diminish labour in investigation. 
For instance, it may be concluded that 
fungi which possess a distinctly disagreeable 
odour may be discarded at once as un- 
wholesome. Then, again, any kinds, the 
flesh of which, when cut or bruised, 
distinctly changes colour, especially to a 
dark blue, should be avoided. Even the 
Common Mushroom will sometimes turn 
brown when cut, and some other of the 
edible species will show a slight change, 
but it is the immediate and rapid change 
to a deep blue which should be accepted 
as a paramount signal of danger. It may 
safely be conduded that any species of 



PREAMBLE. 1 1 

which a small fragment when eaten raw 
is biting and unpleasant, is not worthy of 
experiment, and in the majority of in- 
stances will prove deleterious when cooked. 
Another precaution may be added, that 
such fungi as contain a milky juice, which 
exudes freely on being cut or wounded, 
should not be eaten without careful de- 
termination. Once for all, it must be 
insisted upon, that in order to avoid danger, 
no fungi should be eaten at random, and 
only those which, after careful examination, 
are found to agree with figure and descrip- 
tion, unless practically well known, should 
be prepared for the table. No method is 
so safe as that which consists in mastering 
the characteristics of a few species, especially 
when pointed out by one who is practically 
conversant with them, and increasing the 
number with experience. There are cer- 
tainly some seventy or eighty common 
species to be found in this country which 
may be eaten with safety, but if only ten 
or twelve of these are well known, they 



12 PREAMBLE. 

will furnish, all the variety which an 
ordinary person will require. We have 
ourselves eaten of more than sixty different 
species, and yet seldom eat of more than 
from six to ten in any given year. Ex- 
periments in eating unknown fungi, or 
those concerning which any doubt exists, 
should on no account be encouraged. We 
may not possess so many truly poisonous 
species as has been supposed, but that 
we do possess some is an undoubted fact, 
and it should be remembered as a caution. 
Thorough and persistent fnngus-eaters never 
experiment upon unknown species, but only 
upon those which are known by experi- 
ence to be harmless, or which by their 
natural affinities afford no possible reason 
for doubt. 

Characteristic and accurate figures are a 
great help in the determination of species, 
but figures alone are scarcely sufficient for 
the inexperienced, and should always be 
supplemented by a reference to the written 
description. Features of importance may 



PREAMBLE. 13 

be overlooked in scanning a figure, but 
these may be emphasized in the description. 
Moreover, there are features which cannot 
be represented in diagrammatic form, which 
may nevertheless be very evident in the 
fungus itself, such as viscidity, odour, and 
taste. 

With one or two exceptions all the figures 
are representations of fungi which possess 
a stem and a pileus, or cap. However 
much these may vary in size and form, 
they are nevertheless present. In the 
majority of instances the cap, which sur- 
mounts the stem, is furnished on the under 
surface with numerous parallel plates, or 
gills, which radiate from the stem to the 
margin of the cap. The Common Mushroom 
is one of this type of gill-bearing fungi. 
There are, however, a few illustrations of 
species in which the gills are replaced by 
pores, the whole under surface of the cap 
being even, and punctured with very numer- 
ous little holes, as if pricked with a pin, and 
these are the pore-bearing fungi, of which 



14 PREAMBLE. 

the Edible Boletus is the type. One other 
example, that of the Hedgehog Mushroom, 
illustrates a type in which the gills, or 
pores, are replaced by teeth, or spines, which 
beset the whole of the under surface of the 
pileus, or cap. These three groups may be 
distinguished from each other by features 
which are distinct and unmistakable, so 
that there need not to be a moment's 
hesitation in their application. The few 
additional forms which do not conform to 
any of these groups need not be mentioned 
here, but will be described hereafter under 
their separate names. 

Reverting to the original definition, in 
which a stem and pileus, or cap, are the 
two elements, we must remark that, in the 
gill-bearing fungi, this stem may have a 
ring or collar surrounding it near the apex, 
or the ring may be entirely absent. This 
is an important feature in the discrimination 
of species, since it forms a part of the 
specific character. It is present in the 
Common Mushroom, but it is absent in the 



PREAMBLE. 15 

Blewits, not by accident, but persistently. 
Herein, then, we have one valuable guide 
in the discrimination of species. Further- 
more, the base of the stem, in a few 
instances, is enclosed in a sheath, or volva, 
which may be comparatively loose, and 
distinct, as in the Buff Warty Caps, or it 
may be closely adherent, showing only a 
circular line or ring, as in the Euddy Warty 
Caps and the Fly Agaric. This, again, is 
peculiar only to certain species, and should 
be borne in mind. Appertaining to the 
stem, it may be observed that it is often 
desirable, when the name of a species 
has to be determined, to cut the stem 
longitudinally down the middle, and by 
this means it will be found that in some 
species the stem is hollow in the centre, 
whilst in others the stem is solid. All 
these are points which should be borne in 
mind by those who have no desire to 
poison themselves. 

One other point is of equal importance 
to, if not greater than any which we have 



1 6 PREAMBLE. 

named, and that is the colour of the spores 
produced by each species. When any of 
the gill-bearing fungi are expanded, and near 
maturity, the gills will be observed to vary 
in colour, some being white, and others of 
almost any tint of grey, or brown, to black. 
But the colour of the gills must not be 
relied upon as that of the spores, for in 
some cases the gills may be more or less 
coloured, whilst the spores remain white. 
To ascertain accurately the colour of the 
spores, the stem should be cut off close to 
the under-side of the cap, and then the 
severed cap should be placed, with the 
gills downward, upon a sheet of paper, and 
permitted to remain in that, position all 
night. In the morning the spores will 
have fallen from the gills upon the paper, 
outlining the form of the cap, and showing 
the radiating lines of the gills. If the 
spores are believed to be white, or light- 
coloured, opaque black paper should be 
employed ; but if very dark, or black, then 
white paper should be used. This enables 



PREAMBLE. 17 

the colour to be more accurately determined. 
The whole series of colour may be classed 
in five groups — white, pink or salmon, 
rusty-brown, purple-brown, and black. Of 
course the shades will vary in most of 
the groups, but especially in the second 
and third. It is most important that the 
colour of the spores should be determined 
first of all, and then it will be less difficult 
to discover the species to which they belong. 
A great number of the species with white 
spores are edible, but some are dangerous, 
so that the colour of the spores is not a 
test of quality. Again, most of the species 
with pink or salmon-coloured spores are 
suspicious, whilst two or three are excellent 
food. Take, for example, the Common 
Mushroom, which when young has the gills 
of a beautiful pink colour ; as it becomes 
older the gills darken, and when the spores 
are ripe enough to fall, they are not pink, 
but purple-brown. If an inexperienced 
person finds a species of " mushroom," or 
fungus of the mushroom type, with pink 

B 



1 8 PREAMBLE. 

gills, and thinks, on that account, it must 
be the Common Mushroom, this method 
should be tried, and the colour of the spores 
ascertained, for if the spores are pinkish, 
then the fungus in question is not the true 
mushroom, and is possibly dangerous ; but 
if the spores are dark purple-brown, not- 
withstanding that the gills were at first 
pink, then it is perfectly safe. So that 
the colour of the spores is a question of 
importance, and should not be neglected, 
supposing, of course, that the person inter- 
ested is not perfectly sure, from experience, 
that the right species is under observation. 
We have actually known persons mistake 
white or pink-spored Agarics for mush- 
rooms, which they could not have done 
had they paid attention to the colour of 
the spores. In another instance we re- 
member a foolish youth cooking and eating 
a small species with rust-coloured spores, 
under the impression that they were the 
Fairy King Champignon, which latter has 
white spores. Fortunately, in this case, 



PREAMBLE. 19 

the fungus eaten was not a poisonous one, 
but no one had ever tested it, and it was 
regarded with suspicion. 

It is a popular error that a " mushroom ' 
may be distinguished from a "toadstool 5 
by the cuticle of the cap. Some j3ersons 
hold that if the cuticle, or skin, of the cap 
or pileus can be stripped off readily, then 
the fungus in question is an edible mush- 
room ; but if it cannot be stripped off, in that 
case it is poisonous. The cuticle is certainly 
separable in the mushroom, both wild and 
cultivated, but in numerous instances where 
it is separable in other species, they are 
certainly dangerous ; whereas in some ex- 
cellent species, which are constantly eaten, 
there is no separable cuticle. A wag was 
once heard to declare that he knew of 
only one universal and infallible method 
for determining an edible from a poisonous 
mushroom, and that was by eating it. If 
it did you no harm it was edible, but if it 
killed you, or made you ill, then it was unfit 
for food. Against this experimental method 



20 . PREAMBLE. 

we take exception in favour of d priori 
determination. 

It should be borne in mind that fungi 
which grow upon trees are not likely to be 
found growing on the ground, and that 
those which inhabit pastures should not 
be sought in woods. In most species there 
is a great persistence in habit, and, not- 
withstanding some variability in form, size, 
and colour, comparative permanence in 
character, or in such characters as are 
relied upon for the discrimination of species. 
A species which possesses a ring upon the 
stem, for instance, or warts upon the 
pileus, always has them, unless denuded 
by accident. Hence the different species 
may be distinguished by specific characters, 
as in plants of a higher organization, so 
that the ordinary process of determination, 
as employed in other departments of botany, 
is equally applicable here, and the results 
are equally satisfactory. 

The assumption that fungi of the same 
species, growing in different localities, may 



PREAMBLE. 2 1 

be so modified by circumstances as to lose 
or acquire poisonous properties, has not been 
established. One of our most virulent 
native species has undoubtedly been eaten 
in Kussia with no disagreeable results, but 
there is no evidence that the character of 
the fungus had changed, whilst there is 
every reason to believe that the process 
of cooking adopted was calculated to produce 
such results. It is very probable that the 
poisonous principle existing in any fungus, 
as it is grown, may be neutralized by the 
use of acids or alkalies. Fungi of the 
mushroom type grow rapidly, and rapidly 
decay. Chemical change taking place so 
readily, it is important that this class of 
food should be cooked as speedily as 
possible after it is gathered, before any 
appreciable change takes place. It is by 
no means certain that stale mushrooms are 
innocuous, and, in some cases where mush- 
rooms have been accused of producing 
unpleasant effects on delicate constitutions, 
it is possible that the cause was not in 



22 PREAMBLE. 

the mushrooms originally, but was developed 
by incipient decay. 

We would fain dispel the illusion that 
the Common Mushroom is the type to which 
all edible fungi must conform, and that 
all others should be compared with it. 
There are some which are of the same 
flavour, or closely resemble it, whilst there 
are others of a wholly different kind. Much 
disappointment is liable to follow if, in all 
cases, it is expected to meet with the 
mushroom in some modified form. There 
is as much difference in the peculiar flavour 
of different species as there is in the different 
kinds of flesh. No one would be satisfied 
if veal tasted like mutton, or roast pork 
like roast beef, and there is just as much 
difference in the various kinds of edible 
fungi. In some of them the flavour is 
completely novel, and produces a new 
sensation — for instance, there is not the 
least resemblance between the Puff Ball 
and the ordinary mushroom, or between 
the latter and the Hedgehog. It is in 



PREAMBLE. 23 

this great variety that much of the charm 
lies, otherwise it would be better to adhere 
to the ordinary mushroom than venture 
upon others which would be no better than 
substitutes. In tasting of a new dish, 
therefore, it is better to forget the old one 
for the time, and expect to partake of 
something which has to rest upon its own 
merits, and not upon its resemblance to 
anything else. 

As a natural consequence of this variety 
of flavour, it is essential that each species 
should be used by itself, and not mixed, 
several kinds together, in a sort of hotch- 
potch, where no particular flavour prevails, 
but all are reduced to a horrible mediocrity. 
A professed fungus-eater would no more 
think of sitting down to a dish compounded 
indiscriminately of half-a-dozen species, 
than would a gourmet of mixing his wines, 
or combining his venison with his salmon 
and turkey. 

Much of the excellence of a dish of fungi 
depends upon the cook, for a bad cook 



24 PREAMBLE. 

will spoil the best dish that was ever 
invented. It is no part of our present 
design to give special instructions in the 
art of cooking mushrooms, but there is an 
art in it which makes all the difference. 
Frankly, the ordinary domestic cook, without 
special experience, never succeeds well even 
with the Common Mushroom ; it requires 
a kitchen genius to present them at their 
best. We never deemed it possible for 
Chantarelles to be so delicious as we tasted 
them once, when manipulated by an old 
cook from a Swiss Hotel, who chanced to 
be in the way, and volunteered to under- 
take the task con amove. It has been said 
that " mushrooms are the gift of Nature, 
but a good cook is the gift of God." 

In uttering a protest against grilling, or 
frying in an open pan, so that much of 
the aroma and flavour disappears up the 
chimney, we may suggest an improved 
method, which is applicable to many kinds. 
Lay the mushrooms, when wiped, sliced, 
or otherwise prepared, in a shallow dish, 



PREAMBLE. 25 

sprinkle with salt and pepper, and place a 
small piece of butter on each, cover closely 
with a plate, and place them in an oven, so 
that they are cooked gradually, and all the 
aroma and flavour is retained. Serve them 
hot, in the same dish, and without un- 
covering. Even this method is not equally 
good for every kind, but it is the only 
general one which we can recommend. 

Finally, we must assume that all who 
use this little book will have arrived at 
the age of discretion, and that there is no 
occasion to urge upon them the exercise 
of common-sense. Punishment will follow 
inordinate indulgence in any of the good 
things of this life, and those who disregard 
reason, and are intern perate in eating fungi, 
must expect to suffer from repletion and in- 
digestion. It is essential to insist upon an 
avoidance of all unknown or doubtful kinds 
Ordinary care and judgment are sufficient 
to avoid danger, but so many persons 
neglect ordinary care and tempt misfortune 
by indiscretion, that it is necessary to 



26 PREAMBLE. 

repeat caution against foolish experiments'. 
Be sure to know and distinguish your 
mushrooms first, and eat them afterwards, 
but do not rely upon a fancied external 
appearance, without comparing them with 
the written description, unless they have 
been guaranteed and recommended by some 
competent person. There is no more danger 
of eating bad funsri than of eating bad 
fish, if the same amount of discrimination 
is exercised. Better to be too .timid, as 
some are, and refuse to eat mushrooms at 
all, than to be too reckless, and nesdect the 
simplest precautions to ensure safety. 



EDIBLE AND POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 



EDIBLE MUSHROOMS. 

The number of kinds here enumerated is 
comparatively small, but it includes all tlie 
best, the most available, and indeed all that 
are essential to be popularly known, of the 
two hundred, and upwards, of edible species 
hitherto known to have occurred in the 
British Islands. The residue consists of 
such kinds as are of inferior quality, and 
largely of species which have been found so 
rarely that their mention could have served 
no useful purpose. Undoubtedly it is more 
satisfactory that some twenty or thirty 
sound species should, be known and recog- 
nized, especially if sufficiently common to 



28 EDIBLE AND POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 

be within the reach of all, than that even 
three times that number should have been 
described, which perhaps have never been 
met with but two or three times, and 
may possibly never occur again. It may 
be taken for granted that no species has 
been omitted which can be favourably re- 
commended, or which is sufficiently common 
to be encountered, in ordinarily favourable 
seasons, in congenial localities. Again, it is 
uro-ed on all to learn to discriminate a few 
of the very best kinds, without fear of error, 
and confine attention to those, and neglect 
the rest. 



EDIBLE MUSHROOMS. 29 



RUDDY WARTY CAPS. 

Agaricus (Amanita) rubescens. 

(Plate I. Fig. 1.) 

This excellent esculent is one of the 
commonest, under trees, from early summer 
to late autumn. The cap is of a peculiar 
reddish-grey colour, sprinkled with numerous 
paler warts. The substance is firm and 
robust, at first whitish, then tinged with 
red, especially where touched or bruised, 
and at the basis of the stem, where an 
obscure scaly circle represents the margin 
of the adnate volva. The stem is thick, 
tapering upwards, having near the apex a 
large white pendulous collar, or ring. The 
gills are broad, reaching nearly to the stem, 
but not attached to it, white at first, but 
turning reddish when bruised. The tone of 
red is that of brick-red, and not scarlet or 
crimson. Sometimes it will stand about 
five inches high, with an expanded cap of 
three or four inches. The flesh is very 



30 EDIBLE AND POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 

susceptible of becoming " maggoty J when 
old, and it should always be collected for 
the table before the cap is fully expanded, 
and then it is perfectly wholesome. The 
flavour is mild, but both in odour and taste 
less aromatic than the Common Mushroom. 
Although the younger specimens, when the 
cap is hemispherical, are to be preferred for 
cooking, the older and more expanded, 
when not attacked by insects, will make 
excellent ketchup. There is no fear of 
confounding the present with any other 
species if only ordinary care is exercised, 
and we have never heard of its disagreeing 
with any one who has partaken of it. 



EDIBLE MUSHROOMS. 31 



DELICIOUS MILK-MUSHROOM. 

Lactarius deliciosus. 

(Plate I. Fig. 2.) 

The Milk-Mushrooms (Lactarius) differ 
from all others in containing a white, or 
coloured, milk, which oozes out freely when 
cut or wounded. The present species only 
grows under fir-trees, somewhat earlier than 
the general crop of fungi, being in greatest 
plenty about August or early in September. 
It is firm and solid in texture, with a very 
short stem, so that the cap is close to the 
ground, about two or three inches in 
diameter, pale brick-red, with a tinge of 
orange, usually marked with darker zones ; 
the centre of the cap is depressed, and the 
margins curved inwards. The whole plant 
abounds with an orange milk, which exudes 
when cut or wounded, and on exposure soon 
turns green, so that the fungus appears to 
be stained green. There is no other fungus 
possessing an orange milk which becomes 



32 EDIBLE AND POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 

green. This milk, and the mushroom itself, 
has a rather biting taste when fresh, but 
this disappears with cooking. It requires 
great care and delicacy in cooking or it 
becomes tough and indigestible, but with 
good manipulation it furnishes a delicious 
dish. The most successful method is that 
of cutting into uniform segments, and 
placing the pieces in a dish, with pepper 
and salt, and a small piece of butter to 
every group. Cover the dish, and bake 
very gently for three-quarters of an hour, 
without uncovering, to be served at once in 
the same hot dish. There are other methods, 
but, in all, the golden rule is to cook 
gradually and slowly, and serve hot. 



EDIBLE MUSHROOMS. 33 



COMMON MUSHROOM. 

Agaricus (Psalliota) campestris. 

(Plate I. Fig. 3.) 

Very little description is needed for this 
well-known species, the marvel being how 
any one can possibly confound it with any 
other kind, and yet we read occasionally 
of mishaps from eating something else in 
mistake. The stem is surrounded by a 
well-defined collar or ring, the gills are of 
a delicate pink when young, becoming at 
length of a deep brown ; the cap is some- 
times smooth and sometimes more or less 
scaly, with a separable cuticle ; the odour 
is distinct and fragrant, and the taste, when 
raw, nutty and pleasant. The kind sold so 
commonly by greengrocers in London, by 
no means attractive in appearance, consists 
for the most part of the Horse Mushroom. 
In the markets of provincial towns we have 
only seen the true mushroom exposed for 
sale, as the Horse Mushroom is considered 



34 EDIBLE AND POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 

by country people as only fit for ketchup. 
The price varies in London, as elsewhere. 
We have been asked 2^d. per jDound i n 
Hereford Market on one day, and found an 
inferior article being sold in London the 
next day at eightpence per pound. We 
have noted the price in Paris on two or 
three occasions, and found it one -half the 
price demanded in London at the same time, 
where, one year in particular, the price was 
ranging from one shilling and eightpence 
to two shillings per pound in Co vent Garden 
Market. It is the general opinion with 
connoisseurs that the wild mushroom is 
much more delicate and of better flavour 
than the cultivated varieties, and less liable 
to disagree with delicate stomachs. Occa- 
sionally a dark-brown scaly-capped variety 
may be found in parks, with pink gills, 
which is scarcely wholesome. 



PL. 1. 




EDIBLE MUSHROOMS. 



EDIBLE MUSHROOMS. 35 



PARASOL MUSHROOM. 

Agaricus (Lepiota) procerus. 

(Plate II. Fig. 1.) 

The Parasol Mushroom is so designated 
from its erect, straight, slender stem and 
expanded cap, not very unlike the object 
after which it derives its name. It is not 
uncommon in summer and early autumn, 
mostly amongst dead leaves, and occasion- 
ally attains a large size, with a stem ten 
inches long, and a cap six inches broad. 
Sometimes it will be found in pastures and 
under trees, and is of a very dry texture, 
shrivelling when old before it decays. The 
top of the pileus is conical and dark, but 
the rest is paler and silky, covered with 
scattered darker scaly patches. The gills 
are white and broad, narrowed towards 
each end, and not reaching the stem, which 
consequently appears to be sunk into the 
cap, with a hollow all round it. The base 
of the stem is bulbous, and, for some 



36 EDIBLE AND POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 

distance up it, is marked with striate, 
irregular bands ; above the middle the stem 
is girt by a large collar or ring, which at 
length frees itself from the stem. The 
spores, like the gills, are white. The flesh 
is white, and rather soft, with a tendency 
to change colour when exposed to the air, 
and the centre of the stem is hollow. 
Divested of the stem, and a little butter 
put in its place, with pepper and salt, it 
may be grilled and served on toast, when it 
forms a pleasing breakfast dish, hardly to 
be surpassed by any of our ordinary species. 
The flavour is mild and delicate, with the 
odour of the mushroom when brought to 
the table. As far as our experience goes, 
it is a universal favourite. 



EDIBLE MUSHROOMS. 37 



ST. GEORGE'S MUSHROOM. 

Agaricus (Tricholoma) gambosus. 

(Plate II. Fig. 2.) 

There are not many mushrooms in the 
spring, and to possess a really good sub- 
stitute on St. George's Day is a decided 
advantage, only that the St. George's 
Mushroom appears to be provokingly local. 
The cap reaches to three or four inches in 
diameter, and it is of a creamy whiteness 
in every part, sometimes with a darker 
tinge on the top of the cap. Altogether, 
it is of a robust habit, and a peculiarly 
strong odour, more penetrating than that of 
any other mushroom with which we are 
acquainted. It comes up in rings on rich 
pastures, and even the spawn, or mycelium, 
possesses the strong odour. The margin 
of the pileus has a constant tendency to 
curve inwards, the gills and spores are 
white, and the stem has no trace of a collar, 
or ring. There is an abundance of thick 



38 EDIBLE AND POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 

flesh, which is about an inch thick in the 
centre of the pileus, and remarkably firm ; 
it may even be cut in slices and dried for 
winter use. On one occasion a good friend 
in the north sent us a hamper of speci- 
mens for the table, as it is rare in the 
neighbourhood of London, but the odour 
was so powerful and oppressive that the 
house was soon filled with it, and we 
were compelled to transfer the mushrooms 
to an outhouse until the hour of sacrifice 
arrived. The nearest species with which 
it can be compared is the Blewits, but the 
latter is an autumnal, and this a spring 
species. Moreover, there is no tinge of 
lilac in the St. George's Mushroom, and the 
odour of the Blewits is far less intense. 



PL. 2, 




EDIBLE MUSHROOMS. 



EDIBLE MUSHROOMS. 39 



BLUE CAPS. 

Agaricus (Tricholoma) nudus. 

(Plate III. Fig. I.) 

The Blue Caps are mostly found, grow- 
ing in company, amongst dead leaves, or 
even on the ground, in woods and shady 
places. The entire plant, when well grown, 
is of a beautiful lilac colour, but the top of 
the cap soon shows a tendency to turn of a 
dull reddish, or vinous colour. Usually the 
cap is from two to three inches in diameter, 
but we have seen them attain to six inches, 
often contorted through growing in tufts. 
The spores are white, and the stem has no 
collar or ring. The flesh is firm and solid, 
of the same tint, but paler than the exterior, 
and there is a slight mealy odour. This 
species is often found with the Dusky 
Caps, but is commonly smaller, and of a 
different colour, although there is a great 
similarity in flavour when cooked. The 
tone of colour is never a decided blue, 



40 EDIBLE AND POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 

but almost amethystine. Dead leaves which 
have drifted into a ditch, or have accumu- 
lated in heaps to rot, in the corners of 
large gardens and recreation grounds, are 
favourite localities for these two species. 
We have always preferred specimens before 
they are quite fully grown, or the lilac 
colour changes to vinous red, for the table, 
and then they are mild and luscious, 
especially when grilled and served on toast. 
It must be remembered that as fruits differ 
from each other in flavour, according to the 
species or varieties, so also do the edible 
fungi, and that the flavour of one species is 
not found in another, so that no single 
species can be set up as a standard for 
comparison. Fruits that are not peaches, 
or apricots, may be very good plums. 



EDIBLE MUSHROOMS. 41 



FAIRY RING CHAMPIGNON. 

Marasmius oreades. 

(Plate III. Fig. 2.) 

This species is extensively known, grow- 
ing in clusters, and forming rings, or parts 
of rings, on lawns, and in old pastures, 
sometimes by the roadsides, but not in 
woods. It is rather an early species, being 
found in summer, and becoming rare in 
September. Its whole substance is dry and 
elastic, but not fragile ; a dozen may be 
carried in the pocket without breaking, and 
it dries so readily that it may be kept for 
winter use. Its usual size is about one inch 
in diameter of the cap, but sometimes double 
that size. The pileus is convex, with a little 
depression round the centre, and of a pale 
tan-colour when moist, or warm ochre when 
dry. The stem is slender, equal, solid, and 
white, very faintly woolly, but naked at the 
base. The gills are broad, rather distant 
apart, with shorter ones between, and nearly 



42 EDIBLE AND POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 

white, or with a faint tinge of pale primrose, 
the spores being white. There is a peculiar 
fragrance, not distinctly sweet-scented, but 
rather " mushroomy," and the flavour is 
mild. The dry substance of the entire 
fungus is an indication that care must be 
employed in cooking to prevent its becom- 
ing tough. Some persons are more enthusi- 
astic than ourselves in adulation of this 
esculent, and have declared it to be " the 
verv best of all our fun on." It is most 
useful for flavouring:, will furnish an 
excellent white sauce akin to ketchup, is 
invariably safe, but is better for immediate 
use when collected in moist weather, and 
then, broiled in butter, it is highly com- 
mended. With common-sense and moderate 
care it is hardly possible to confound it 
with any other species. 



EDIBLE MUSHROOMS. 43 



BLEWITS. 

Agaricus (Tricholoma) personatus. 

(Plate III. Fig. 3.) 

In external form and size, the Blewits 
resembles the Common Mushroom, but with 
these important differences, that the gills 
are whitish, and the spores are white ; the 
stem has no collar, or ring, and is tinged 
with lilac. It more nearly resembles the 
St. George's Mushroom, only that it is 
autumnal ; commonly it is about three 
inches across, and is to be found on downs 
and short pastures. The flesh is thick and 
firm, with a mushroomy odour. The top of 
the pileus is generally greyish, and quite 
smooth, and it absorbs water very readily, 
so as to become sodden in wet weather, and 
then of but little account. It has been 
stated that it was formerly sold in Co vent 
Garden Market, but that has not been the 
case during the past forty years ; neverthe- 
less it is commonly sold, under the name of 



44 EDIBLE AND POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 

Blewits, in Nottingham Market at the 
present day, and is recognized and eaten 
by the inhabitants. It is not every one 
who will approve of this species, as it has a 
rather peculiar flavour, but when collected 
in dry weather it will be the fault of the 
cook if it does not furnish an appetizing 
meal. We are not at all sure that the 
complaint which has been urged against it 
may not be true — that it is heavy, and not 
so easy of digestion as some other species. 
It is easy of recognition, and the Notting- 
ham people will bear testimony to its good 
character. 

Since the above was written we have 
had ocular demonstration that it is possible 
for this species to be found in April, but 
the specimens were small. 



PL. 3. 




EDIBLE MUSHRCCMS, 



EDIBLE MUSHROOMS. 45 



DUSKY CAPS. 

Agaricus (Clitocybe) nebular is. 

(Plate IV. Fig. 1.) 

The Dusky Caps are not uncommon late 
in autumn, mostly growing on dead leaves 
on the borders of woods, or on rubbish 
heaps in the corners of large gardens. The 
cap is of a cloudy grey colour, and from 
three to six inches in diameter, soon be- 
coming nearly flat, and often with a frosted 
surface, as if dusted with flour. The gills 
run for a considerable distance down the 
stem, which latter is a little thickened at 
the base, and wholly deficient of a ring. 
The gills and spores are white. When cut 
in section the white flesh is seen to be firm 
and thick, and it has a heavy but not dis- 
agreeable odour. Nearly always a number 
of specimens will be found growing together, 
so that we have seen sufficient to fill 
a bushel basket within the space of two 
or three square yards. Another brighter 



46 EDIBLE AND POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 

coloured species, the Blue Caps, is often 
found with it in the same localities. Some 
Continental writers have expressed a doubt 
as to its esculent qualities, but we have 
eaten of it more than of almost any other 
wild species, and found it constantly agree- 
able, and perfectly safe. For a breakfast 
relish we have always relied upon this, 
the Parasol Mushroom, the Ruddy Warty 
Caps, and the Shaggy Caps as the most 
available and satisfactory. We have eaten 
of the present species a fortnight before 
Christmas, in one eventful year, when the 
frosts were not severe. One or two corre- 
spondents have complained of the heaviness 
of this species, and that it produces a 
feeling akin to dyspepsia ; but we have had 
no such experience, after consuming it 
almost daily for a fortnight. 



EDIBLE MUSHROOMS. 47 



VEGETABLE BEEF-STEAK. 

Fistulina liepatica, 

(Plate IY. Fig. 2.) 

Ox-tongue, Tree-liver, or Vegetable Beef- 
steak, are all names which have been 
applied to this esculent, which is found in 
autumn growing out of the trunk of very 
old oaks. Year after year it has been 
known to appear on the same tree, of 
course upon a decaying spot, and then it is 
not unlike a large tongue, or a piece of 
liver thrust out from the tree, and exuding 
a juice when wounded. The upper surface 
is rather sticky and liver-coloured, the 
under surface paler and flesh-coloured ; when 
cut the inner substance is mottled, re- 
sembling beet-root. There are no gills, 
but the under surface is composed of little 
tubes, glued together side by side, almost 
like those of a Boletus, but separating more 
easily. In some places the flesh is sliced 
when raw, and eaten in salads like beet. 



48 EDIBLE AND POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 

The more usual method is to employ it 
cooked as a sauce, for it is not of a kind 
suitable to eat by itself, but when cut in 
slices and broiled with steak it gives an 
excellent sauce. There is no resemblance 
whatever to the mushroom flavour, or 
odour, but a slight acidity of taste ; with 
that exception, it is most like beef gravy. 
It differs in another respect from all other 
fungi, that it is in its prime for cook- 
ing when thoroughly matured and almost 
verging on decay. When very young it is 
disagreeable, and, until quite mature, will 
retain some astringency, suggesting the 
tannin of the oak. 



PL. 4. 




EDIBLE MUSHROOMS. 



EDIBLE MUSHROOMS. 49 



HORSE MUSHROOM. 

Agaricus (Psalliota) arvensis. 

(Plate V. Fig. 1.) 

The Horse Mushroom is larger than the 
Common Mushroom, and the gills are not 
at first pink, but of a dirty white. We 
have found it to be the common species 
in marshes, where it will reach a diameter 
of from seven to nine inches, and more ; 
growing occasionally in rings, or parts 
of rings, and with a much stronger odour 
than the Common Mushroom. The cap is 
quite smooth, and soft like kid-leather, 
with a yellowish tint, and no indication of 
scales. The stem has a large, ragged collar 
or ring, and the interior is spongy at the 
centre. It has a tendency to become pale 
brownish when cut or bruised. For eating, 
these caps are certainly to be preferred 
before they are fully expanded and flattened. 
The stem and the thick centre of the cap 
are liable to be perforated by insects, and 

D 



50 EDIBLE AND POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 

become " worm-eaten '' when they are fully 
matured. This is the species commonly 
sold as " mushrooms ' in London, except 
the cultivated varieties, which are found in 
the best places and at the best prices. It 
is preferred in country districts for ketchup, 
where it is seldom eaten, on the ground 
that it is coarse and strong. Some of the 
most experienced of fungus-eaters prefer 
it, however, to every other species, except- 
ing the rare Agaricus Elvensis, which is 
acknowledged to be the " mushroom royal." 
It must be remembered that neither this 
species nor the Common Mushroom grow 
habitually in woods, but in open grassy 
places, old pastures, parks, and meadows. 



EDIBLE MUSHROOMS. 51 



HEDGEHOG MUSHROOM. 

Hydnum repandum. 

(Plate V. Fig. 2.) 

The Hedgehog Mushroom furnishes an 
example of a very different type of structure 
to that of the Common Mushroom, in that 
the under surface of the pileus, which in 
the mushroom is occupied by gills, is in 
this instance replaced by spines, thickly 
set together, and finally covered with 
spores. This fungus grows in woods and 
by shady roadsides in the autumn. It is 
entirely of one colour, which is something 
of a pinkish-cream colour, and the pileus 
is seldom regular, often lobed, contorted, 
and tuberculose ; sometimes two or three 
individuals are confluent into one ; the stem 
is rather thick, solid, and irregular. The 
spines being attended to, it is scarcely 
possible to confound this with any other 
species. It is peppery to the taste when 
raw, in which condition we have known 



52 EDIBLE AND POISONOUS MUSHEOOMS. 

of thin slices being inserted in a meat 
sandwich. When cooked, there still re- 
mains a little of the original pungency, 
unless the fungus is sliced and steeped in 
water all night, which some regard as an 
improvement. In this instance also, as in 
one or two others which we have alluded 
to, the flavour is entirely different from, 
and cannot be compared with, that of the 
ordinary mushroom. The Hedgehog is 
probably more suited as a condiment, or 
as an addition to stews, than as a separate 
dish, although in the latter condition we 
consider it irreproachable. Stewed in milk, 
we have known it served at a public dinner. 
It is one of the species which may be sliced 
and dried for winter consumption. 



EDIBLE MUSHROOMS. 53 



IVORY CAPS. 

Hygro-jphorus virgineus. 

(Plate V. Fig. 3.) 

This is one of the snowy white species 
which ornament lawns, and short pastures, 
in the autumn for some time after the 
appearance of frost. Most of them are 
covered with a viscid moisture, like gum- 
water, and it is probably that which pro- 
tects them from injury by the light frosts. 
This is comparatively small, commonly about 
one inch across the pileus, but occasionally 
two or three inches. The gills are broad, 
wide apart, and veined, and the spores are 
quite white. The stem is short, but firm, 
attenuated downwards, and the gills run 
about half-way down. We have never 
detected any odour, and the taste is mild. 
There is no doubt that all these white 
species, which are in the habit of decorating 
lawns in the latter part of the year, are 
quite harmless, and some of them delicate 



54 EDIBLE AND POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 

and pleasant, but a great number must be 
collected to furnish a moderate dish, and 
hence they are not often consigned to the 
kitchen, save in the absence of larger 
species. A large and bright-red species, 
with a conical cap (Hygrophorus coccineus), 
and gills inclining to orange, affords a mild 
and delicate dish, but the quantity is 
generally limited. 



PL. 5. 




EDIBLE MUSHROOMS. 



EDIBLE MUSHROOMS. 55 



INKY MUSHROOM. 

Coprinus atramentarius. 

(Plate VI. Fig. 1.) 

Of all edible species this is probably the 
one to which a novice would take exception, 
as being so utterly a " toadstool 5: in ap- 
pearance as to banish all desire to test its 
qualities. In this instance, as in some 
others, a foregone conclusion would prove 
to be wrong, for, notwithstanding its weird 
and uncanny look, it is but little, if at all, 
inferior to the Shaggy Caps, to which it 
is closely related. The group to which it 
belongs has the peculiarity that when the 
spores are quite mature the gills dissolve 
and fall away like drops of ink. Clusters 
of this fungus, densely packed together, 
spring from buried wood, or the bottom of 
old posts. The cap is bell-shaped, of a 
smooth shining grey, almost mouse-colour, 
perched on the top of a long white stem. 
Sometimes the cap is as large as an inverted 



56 EDIBLE AND POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 

teacup, often no larger than a wine-glass ; 
the broad gills at first are dirty white, 
gradually growing deeper in colour until 
they become black. Before the gills lose 
their pale colour they are in their prime 
for culinary purposes, and should be wiped 
clean from sand, and committed to the 
tender mercies of the cook. This is one 
of the few species which a bad cook can 
hardly spoil, for it is good any way, and 
cannot be rendered tough by bad treatment. 
Stewed or grilled, and served on toast, it 
has much of the mushroom flavour and 
odour ; but mixed with a hash, or stewed 
with kidneys, it is irreproachable. The 
black fluid into which the gills dissolve 
themselves may be employed as ink, with 
the addition of a little gum-water. 



EDIBLE MUSHROOMS. 57 



SHAGGY CAPS. 

Coprinus comatus. 

(Plate VI. Fig. 2.) 

This is one of the best of edibles, and 
common enough everywhere, especially on 
waste ground and on building plots in 
the midst of civilization. Gutter-boys 
delight to kick it about, and consider them- 
selves the benefactors of their race. It 
generally grows in clusters, with a long 
whitish, shaggy cap, contracted at the 
bottom for a long time, but at length 
expanded. The gills at first are whitish, 
then tinged with pink — it is then at its 
prime ; at length the gills turn black, the 
cap expands, and finally dissolves away, in 
a black slimy drip, like thick ink. In all 
the species of Coprinus the gills dissolve 
into an inky fluid when fully mature, and 
the spores are quite black. There is a 
strong prejudice against this species as a 
"toadstool," but it is almost unequalled 



58 EDIBLE AND POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 

when in its prime, and before the gills 
turn black. It will sometimes be found 
by roadsides, and even in pastures, and is 
tender and delicious cooked in any way. 
The cap and stem is occasionally eight or 
nine inches high, not uncommonly five or 
six, and, as there is nothing else which 
resembles it, there can be little doubt or 
hesitation in eating it, for even children can 
soon distinguish it. It is apt to be gritty 
unless wiped clean before cooking ; when 
it is too ripe for this purpose, it may 
still be converted into excellent ketchup, 
far superior to much that is sold under 
that name. It is deservedly a favourite 
with every one who summons the courage 
to test its edible qualities. 



•EDIBLE MUSHROOMS. 59 



LITTLE IVORY CAPS. 

Hygrophorus niveus. 

(Plate VI. Fig. 3.) 

In many respects the Little Ivory Caps 
resemble the Ivory Caps, but are much 
smaller, and more slender. This species is 
found also amongst short grass, on lawns 
and pastures, and is perfectly white in all its 
parts. In moist weather it is rather sticky, 
which is scarcely observable when dry. The 
cap seldom exceeds half an inch in diameter, 
and the distant gills are gradually attenu- 
ated downwards into the slender stem. 
From its small size it can hardly claim 
much consideration as an edible species, 
but both the species of Ivory Caps may 
be mixed together in making up a dish, 
and as a lawn may sometimes furnish some 
hundreds of specimens of the two kinds, 
it may sometimes be possible to obtain 
sufficient for the kitchen. 

We may enumerate here another, and 



60 EDIBLE AND POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 

similar, little white species {Hygrophorus 
russo-coriaceus) , which is remarkable for 
possessing the peculiar odour of Eussia 
leather. It is found in like localities, but 
is not common, and may possibly be edible, 
but we are not aware that it has ever 
been tested. 

Personally we do not place any of these 
species of white Hygrophorus in a high 
rank as esculents, and they certainly will 
not commend themselves to persons who 
prefer full-flavoured mushrooms. Unless 
cooked with care and delicacy, they will 
possess very little flavour or aroma, but 
they have the merit of being absolutely 
harmless, and can hardly be confounded 
with any other known species. 



PL. 6. 




EDIBLE MUSHROOMS. 



EDIBLE MUSHROOMS. 61 



GIANT PUFF BALL. 

Lycoperdon bovista. 

(Plate VII. Fig. 1.) 

Since we commenced the advocacy, in 
this country, of the Giant Puff Ball as an 
article of food, now thirty years ago, we 
have made many converts, but have never 
found a single instance in which it was not 
highly approved when once tasted. Some 
few enthusiasts have declared it superior to 
any other form of fungus food. Occasionally 
it may be found not larger than a double 
fist, but usually as big as a man's head, 
and, rarely, three feet in diameter. It occurs 
in rich pastures and on the borders of corn- 
fields in harvest- time, when it is of a creamy 
whiteness, with a skin as smooth as a kid 
glove. When cut the interior should be 
of a beautiful snowy white, without any 
tendency to turn yellow. As soon as the 
flesh shows any sign of changing colour, 
it is liable to produce derangement of the 



62 EDIBLE AND POISONOUS MtJSHROOMS. 

stomach, and should be rejected. At length, 
when quite matured, the interior becomes 
a powdery mass of threads and spores of 
a yellowish-olive colour, when it is good 
for nothing but staunching blood or stifling 
bees. When a specimen is found in a 
satisfactory state, it should be cut in slices, 
a quarter of an inch thick, like pancakes, 
smeared with beaten eg-cr and dusted with 
bread crumbs, then fried in butter or good 
fat, until still more resembling a pancake 
or omelet in colour. It may be eaten by 
itself, or with fried ham ; and although with 
a distinct and unique flavour of its own, 
wholly unlike any other edible mushroom, 
it is universally pronounced delicious. We 
have known specimens to grow amongst 
cabbages in a kitchen garden, and when 
such is the case it may be left standing, 
slices being cut off as required until the 
whole is consumed. 



EDIBLE MUSHROOMS. 63 



SWEETBREAD MUSHROOM. 

Agaricus (Clitopilus) orcella. 

(Plate VII. Fig. 2.) 

There are a pair of mushrooms which 
resemble each other so closely that many 
persons believe them to be only varieties. 
Both of them are unique in possessing 
pinkish spores ; both have a mealy odour, 
with a satiny white cap, tending to a very 
pale grey. The Sweetbread (Ag. orcella) 
is said to be the more delicate of the two, 
with a thin, irregular, depressed pileus, two 
or three inches in diameter. In moist 
weather the surface is a little sticky, but it 
is always soft. It grows in woods, or on 
their borders, between June and September, 
and may always be recognized amongst 
white species by its strong mealy odour. 
The stem is short, expanding into the gills, 
which run a long way down, and are at 
first white, but at length assume a peculiar 
pale greyish-pink colour, becoming rather 



64 EDIBLE AND POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 

brownish when quite old. The other, or 
Plum Mushroom (Ag. prunulus), is rather 
more regularly shaped and fleshy, and 
grows also in woods, preferring shady 
places, whilst the other grows in the open. 
In other respects it is difficult to point 
out distinctions between the two. Both 
are most excellent, and favourite articles of 
food with fungus-eaters, being compared to 
" sweetbread." They are usually placed 
with butter in a covered dish, sprinkled 
with pepper and salt, and set in a slow 
oven, being kept covered to preserve the 
aroma. Anything in the nature of stewing 
spoils them. Some mycophagists consider 
them superior to every other species. 



EDIBLE MUSHROOMS. 65 



HORN OF PLENTY. 

C rater ellus cormicopioides. 

(Plate VII. Fig. 3.) 

No edible fungus is so unattractive as 
this, which we neglected for years, but at 
length discovered that we had been deceived 
by appearances, and had passed over an excel- 
lent addition to the table. It is not one of 
the gill-bearing fungi at all, and belongs to 
a large group which contains hardly another 
edible species, but many as tough as leather. 
The above is found on the ground in woods, 
sometimes in profusion in late autumn, and 
has the peculiar form of a sort of trumpet, 
expanding gradually from the base to the 
apex, with the margin bent back at the 
mouth. It is three or four inches high, 
with the mouth, and interior, brownish or 
olive, or sooty, and rather scaly ; the exterior 
smooth, or nearly so, with a few depressions, 
greyish, bearing the spores on all parts of 
the surface, without gills, pores, or spines. 

E 



66 EDIBLE AND POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 

The substance is everywhere thin and 
flexible, and there is hardly any perceptible 
odour. "When intended for cooking, the 
horns should be split open through their 
entire length, aud washed free of all grit, 
which is sure to accumulate at the bottom. 
When dried the pieces should be placed in a 
stew-pan, with salt and pepper, a little water, 
or gravy, and stewed gently until soft, then 
thickened with flour, w T ith the addition of 
a little chopped parsley if desirable. The 
, aroma and flavour is decidedly suggestive 
of the Common Mushroom, and, as bushels 
decay every year, it is a pity that the Horn 
of Plenty should not become more widely 
and better known. 



EDIBLE MUSHROOMS. 67 



CHANTARELLE. 

Cantharellus cibarius. 

(Plate VII. Fig. 4.) 

The Chantarelle is abundant in woods 
in some districts, such as parts of the New 
Forest, whilst in other localities it is rather 
uncertain, and said to be uncommon. It 
has the advantage of being readily seen, 
and not easily confounded with anything 
else. We have sometimes collected two 
gallons in about an hour. The entire colour 
is a beautiful egg-yellow, the texture is firm 
and clean to the touch, the odour rather 
fragrant, reminding one of apricots, and 
the taste is a little warm and biting when 
raw. The gills run down the stem a long 
way, and are so shallow and thick that 
they are more like veins than gills, many 
of them being forked upwards, connected 
by thin cross-veining. Altogether it is a 
most remarkable fungus, once seen never 
to be forgotten. Internally it is solid and 



/ 



68 EDIBLE AND POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 

paler yellow, and it does not appear to be 
at all in favour with insects. Another 
feature in its behalf is that the substance 
is so dry, and so little disposed to change 
or decay, that they may be kept several 
days and cooked as required, or even strung 
up and dried for winter use. There are 
many methods of cooking for the table, 
and many chances of spoiling them, as they 
are liable to become tough if not carefully 
attended to. We are in favour of cutting 
them up and soaking all night in milk, 
especially if not quite fresh. By proper 
manipulation they are a delicious esculent, 
and when condemned it is usually the cook 
who should bear the blame. 



PL. 7. 




■Street bread 




'« C/ 



EDIBLE MUSHROOMS. 



EDIBLE MUSHROOMS. 69 



EDIBLE BOLETUS. 

Boletus edulis. 

(Plate VIII. Fig. 1.) 

This is one of the pore-bearing fungi, in 
which there are no gill-plates on the under 
surface of the cap, but the pale yellowish- 
green surface is punctured with very numer- 
ous pores, as if pricked with a pin. After 
the summer rains it is plentiful in woods, 
with a convex cap of three or four, and even 
to six or seven, inches in diameter, of a 
warm brownish colour, like a Bath bun, 
quite smooth, and slightly viscid. The stem 
is very thick, often distorted, pale tawmy, 
four to six inches lon^, often two inches 
thick, narrowed upwards, and usually with 
a beautiful network of lines near the top, 
but without any collar or ring, and solid 
throughout. The pores or tubes on the 
under side of the pileus are easily removed, 
as they adhere but slightly to the thick 
flesh of the cap. It is preferable to cook 



70 EDIBLE AND POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 

the flesh without the tubes, as the latter 
are rather slimy. Young specimens are 
best, when the flesh is firmest, as they are 
disposed to become spongy with age. On 
the Continent the sliced caps are dried and 
sold as "ceps," for winter use. It may be 
observed that when cut down through the 
stem the flesh undergoes little or no change 
in colour, never turning blue, as in danger- 
ous species. One plan of cooking is re- 
commended which we have never tried — 
that is, to fry or roast the sliced caps with 
onions. Two or three other species of these 
Boleti are excellent, especially one with a 
rough dotted stem and dirty white under 
surface of the cap, but the one above 
described is most strongly recommended. 



EDIBLE MUSHROOMS. 71 



BUFF CAPS. 

Ilygrojihorus praiensis. 

(Plate VIII. Fig. 2.) 

The Buff Caps is a rather early species, 
amongst grass, and has been highly com- 
mended. Although it is one of the Hygro- 
pliori — literally, " water-bearers " — it is of 
a much drier consistency than many others 
of that group. The cap is seldom more 
than two inches broad, becoming nearly 
fiat, smooth and soft, like a kid glove. 
From the edge of the cap it tapers gradu- 
ally downwards to the stem, the gills being 
broad and thick, and running a long way 
down the stem, which is attenuated to the 
base. The gills are distant apart, showing 
the rugged veins at their base. When the 
whole fungus is cut through longitudinally, 
it will be seen that the flesh is very thick 
and solid, of the same tone of colour, but 
paler than the exterior. The whole fungus 
is of one colour, although the spores are 



72 EDIBLE AND POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 

white, and this colour is one which is 
difficult to depict or describe. It is almost 
of the tint called "gilvous," not tan- 
coloured, because with more pink ; hardly 
fawn-coloured, because warmer ; and not 
buff, because less yellow. It is a sort of 
combination of all, with a tendency to dark 
flesh colour. It is not a woodland species, 
but occurs on lawns and in pastures, 
amongst short ^rass, in the early summer. 
It requires careful cooking, as it is liable 
to be condemned as tough, unless treated 
slowly, but it is a great favourite abroad. 
We have no fungus similar in appearance 
or colour which can possibly be confounded 
with it. 



PL. 8. 




EDIBLE MUSHROOMS. 



EDIBLE MUSHROOMS. 73 



WHITE HELVELLA. 

Helvetta crispa. 

(Plate IX. Fig. 1.) 

The Morels and Helvellas differ in 
structure more than in appearance from 
the residue of Edible Fungi. In Agarics, 
and other similar organisms, the spores are 
naked and exposed on the under surface of 
the cap, but in the present, and its allies, 
the spores are enclosed in membranous sacs, 
which are imbedded in the substance of the 
pileus. The White Helvella is an autumnal 
species, and grows on shady banks, and 
amougst short grass. The stem is two or 
three inches long, deeply furrowed and 
wrinkled ; and the cap is thin, lobed, and 
bent back, contorted and twisted in a singu- 
lar manner. The whole plant is whitish, 
rather fragile, with little odour, and sweet 
and nutty in flavour. On account of its 
dry substance the whole plant dries readily, 
and may be preserved for winter use, for 



74 EDIBLE AND POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 

the flavouring of stews, soups, etc. It may 
be stewed fresh, but in this capacity it is 
not so much esteemed as for its flavouring 
qualities when dried, in which condition 
it is a good substitute for the Morel. A 
second species is nearly as common (Hel- 
vetia lacunosa) and quite as large, if not 
larger. The cap is less expanded, and of a 
dark smoky -brown colour, whilst the stem 
is equally furrowed and channelled, and of 
rather a dirtier white. It is equally good, 
and dries with the same facility, so that the 
two species may be mixed together. We 
have found them in considerable quantities 
in Epping Forest, but sometimes only two 
or three specimens are to be seen. When- 
ever this 'happens they should be collected 
and hung up to dry to await future additions 
from more successful excursions. They may 
be found from August to October. 



EDIBLE MUSHROOMS. 75 



COMMON MOREL. 

March ella esculenta. 

(Plate IX. Fig. 2.) 

All the Morels which are found in this 
country are edible, and make their appear- 
ance in the spring. The peculiar cap, or 
pileus, is more or less globose, or conical, 
and the surface is deeply pitted with large 
elongated or hexagonal pits, in the flesh of 
which the spores are imbedded, as in the 
Helvellas. The present species has the 
margin of the cap grown to the stem, so as 
to be continuous with it. The pileus and 
stem are hollow, the latter externally white 
and the former light brown, or greyish, with 
a tinge of olive. They do not appear to be 
so common with us as in France, since lar^e 
baskets filled with them are commonly 
exposed for sale in the markets of Paris at 
a moderate price. In this country they are 
undoubtedly local and comparatively rare, 
occurring in woods or on hedge banks. 



76 EDIBLE AND POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 

The odour, when fresh, is agreeable to a 
fungus-eater, being decidedly " mushroom y," 
and when cooked even more enticing. As 
they dry readily they may be kept for use 
at any season of the year. In this con- 
dition they are even sold in the bazaars 
of India, and appreciated by the natives. 
The hollow cap of the fresh fungus may 
be stuffed with minced veal, and dressed 
between slices of bacon, "a dish of rare 
and exquisite flavour." It seems an act of 
vandalism to convert them into ketchup, 
and yet they are fully capable of such an 
operation, and yield an excellent sauce. 
Fresh Morels are very rarely exposed for 
sale in London, and then realize high 
prices. 



EDIBLE MUSHROOMS. 77 



LANKY MOREL. 

Morchella semilibera. 

(Plate IX. Fig. 3.) 

In some localities this long-stemmed 
Morel is more plentiful than the foregoing 
species, from which it differs, not only by 
the length of the stem, but by a more 
permanent and reliable character, which is 
that the lower edge of the pileus is free 
from the stem all round, and is attached 
beneath about half-way up, whence the 
name of semilibera or " half free." The 
cap is smaller than in the Common Morel, 
and more conical, and the pits narrower 
and more elongated. This is also a spring 
species, and is found in similar localities ; 
the two will sometimes be found growing 
together. As an esculent, the one appears 
to be equally good with the other, but both 
are local, if not rare. It is deeply to be 
regretted that no plan has ever been dis- 
covered for the artificial culture of- Morels. 



78 EDIBLE AND POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 

There are several other species which are 
even more rarely found in this country, 
and especially one, of almost gigantic size, 
called Morchella Smithiana, because it was 
first found by Mr. Worthington Smith. 
The cap is almost spherical, and of a tawny 
colour, with large deep pits. The entire 
height, including the thick stem, is nearly a 
foot, and the globose cap about seven inches 
in diameter. The stem and cap are hollow, 
and, when stuffed with minced veal, would 
furnish a substantial meal for a family. 
The fragments of one nearly as large were 
gathered from a roadside twelve months 
ago ; it had been found and kicked about 
by some mischievous boys, who regarded it 
as a toadstool. 



EDIBLE MUSHROOMS. 79 



TRUFFLE. 

Tuber cvstivum. 

(Plate IX. Fig. 4.) 

This enumeration would not be complete 
without mention of the Truffle, which is 
found buried in the ground like a potato, 
but without any indication on the surface, 
so that it is not easily to be found. It 
favours chalky or limestone soils, such as 
the Sussex Downs, and formerly was hunted 
by truffle-dogs, trained for the purpose. In 
these days most supplies come from France, 
as they are imported at a cheaper rate than 
our native species could be collected, so that 
the industry with us is nearly extinct. The 
French truffle is not precisely the same 
species as our own, whilst some consider it 
preferable. It is nearly black, with a rough, 
or obtusely warted surface, and mostly 
irregular in shape, from the size of a walnut 
to that of an apple, with a strong pene- 
trating odour. It is employed chiefly for 



80 EDIBLE AND POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 

flavouring, as an addition to stuffing, to 
meat pies, and for other purposes. Some 
are imported fresh, others preserved in oil, 
and some in slices dried. Those who have 
had experience of the truffle as an inde- 
pendent delicacy state that when roasted in 
wood ashes it is something to be remem- 
bered, but this is an experience which is 
reserved to the few. It must always be 
regarded as the most aristocratic of the 
mushroom tribe. 



PL. 9. 




M> 




xkif \ 




EDIBLE MUSHROOMS. 



POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 

The number of species of poisonous fungi 
found in this country is comparatively 
small, and with knowledge and experience 
the list is gradually being reduced. Some 
of the species introduced here have been 
reputed noxious, but the evidence in support 
is exceedingly weak, whilst a few are, at 
their worst, only suspicious. Whilst it is 
advisable that no really injurious species 
should fail to be recorded, it is quite needless 
and useless to increase the number of bogies 
by retaining individuals hitherto suspected, 
but which have been proved innocent. 
There was a time, within the memory of 
men still living, when the majority of 
indigenous fungi were regarded as " toad- 
stools," and affirmed to be poisonous. This 



82 EDIBLE AND POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 

has been shown to be a fallacy, and now 
that they are admitted to be only a minority, 
further knowledge and wider experience is 
more likely to tend in the direction of still 
further diminution than in increase. It 
cannot be too often urged that in nearly all 
the cases of mishaps from eating poisonous 
fungi, such mishaps have resulted from most 
culpable negligence or gross ignorance, 
especially in the case of adults, and in 
children from the propensity to eat anything 
which it is possible to masticate. 



POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 83 



FLY MUSHROOM. 

Agaricus (Amanita) muscarius. 

(Plate X. Fig. 1.) 

The figure alone should be sufficient for 
any one to recognize this species at once. 
In Northern Asia it is used as an intoxicant, 
and in European countries to poison flies. 
The pileus is four inches, sometimes six, in 
diameter, of a brilliant scarlet, with scat- 
tered whitish warts, the margin orange or 
yellow ; the stem sometimes eight or nine 
inches long, with a large pendulous collar 
or ring. The white gills are perfectly free 
from the stem, leaving a channel between 
them. Only the edge of the volva remains 
at the swollen base of the stem. It is 
found in autumn in woods, having a 
predilection in favour of birch. The effects 
which follow on partaking of this fungus 
have been recorded somewhat in detail, and 
resemble intoxication, but with dangerous 
symptoms which result in death. Some 



84 EDIBLE AND POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 

interest was excited, a few years since, by 
the announcement of the discovery that the 
hypodermic injection of atropine was a 
successful antidote to poisoning by mus- 
carine or amanitine. Although we have 
been informed of successful applications 
of this antidote, it has latterly been 
declared, on medical authority, to be uncer- 
tain in its effects. It is better therefore to 
study the prevention rather than the cure, 
and to warn all eaters of toadstools against 
experiments with the brilliant Fly Mush- 
room. It is safest to be always upon 
guard, and not to eat any of the brightly- 
coloured species, especially the red, of 
which there are a considerable number to 
be found in the autumn. 



POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 85 



CONIC LAWN MUSHROOM. 

Hygrophorus conicus. 

(Plate X. Fig. 2.) 

Amongst the numerous species of brightly- 
coloured little fungi which flourish on lawns 
in the late autumn is this one, which has 
a conical cap, like an extinguisher, about 
an inch high, and of a deep yellow or dull 
orange colour at first, but soon turning 
nearly black wherever bruised or broken. 
The gills and hollow stem are paler and 
yellowish, changing colour like the cap. It 
is wholly sticky when moist, but shining 
when dry, with a strong and rather un- 
pleasant odour. Not only does it flourish 
on lawns, but also in pastures, amongst 
short grass, and by roadsides. Whether 
it is really poisonous is open to doubt, as 
we are aware of no evidence to that effect, 
and yet it is always included as suspicious 
amongst noxious species, partly perhaps on 
account of its turning black, and partly 



86 EDIBLE AND POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 

from its disagreeable odour. Several other 
fungi have been pronounced noxious on 
account of their odour, and for no other 
reason. The Common Stinkhorn [Phallus 
impudicus) is one of these, but, although 
the odour is simply disgusting, until the 
flies have cleared away the dark slime, we 
are not convinced that there is anything 
disagreeable to the taste, or injurious to the 
stomach, in other parts of the fungus ; 
indeed, we have met with a report of its 
having been eaten without inconvenience, 
after being carefully washed. Nevertheless 
it must be a courageous person who would 
attempt to stew a Stinkhorn in all its glory, 
even if not reputed to be poisonous. 



PL. 10. 




POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 



POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 87 



BUFF WARTY CAPS. 

Ayaricus {Amanita) phalloides. 

(Plate XI. Fig. 1.) 

Possibly this is the most dangerous of 
all native fungi, and exceedingly common 
in nearly every wood in the autumn. 
Smith only says that it is supposed to be 
dangerous, but Dr. Plowright traced more 
than one case of fungus poisoning to this 
source. The pileus is from three to four 
inches broad, with rather a viscid skin, when 
growing in open places whitish or pale yellow, 
in more shady places greenish or light olive. 
Sometimes the top is quite naked, at other 
times with irregular patches of the volva 
adhering. The gills are free from the stem, 
white, broadest in the middle, narrowed 
to each end ; the stem three to five inches 
high, solid at first, then hollow, bulbous 
at the base, with a large drooping white 
collar or ring near the top, and a volva 
or sheath at the base, the lower portion 



88 EDIBLE AND POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 

grown to the bulb, the upper margin torn 
and loose. When very young the cap is 
covered by the volva, which soon cracks, 
and the young cap rises on its stem, bear- 
ing fragments of the torn volva attached 
to it, whilst the remainder is left like a 
rag-o-ed membrane attached to the bulbous 
base. Whilst fresh it has very little odour, 
but soon after being gathered it smells 
more strongly, becoming more or less stink- 
ing in decay. The variety which is pure 
white, sometimes called a distinct species 
under the name of Agaricus vernus, only 
seems to differ in colour and in its less foetid 
odour, and is equally dangerous. Against 
these we utter the strongest and most 
emphatic warning. The spores are white, 
and it has not the least resemblance to 
the Common Mushroom. 



POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 89 



LIBERTY CAPS. 

Agaricus (Psilocybe) semilanceatus. 

(Plate XI. Fig. 2.) 

One of the commonest of fungi, amongst 
grass in pastures and by roadsides, during 
summer and autumn. The cap is of that 
peculiar conical form which is convention- 
ally associated with the " cap of liberty," 
about half an inch broad, and a little longer, 
sharp pointed at the top, and wholly dirty 
white or ochre. The stem is long and 
flexuous, according to the length of the 
grass, mostly four to five inches, and 
scarcely so thick as a straw, and whitish ; 
gills pale brown at first, and finally nearly 
black ; spores purple-brown. There is a 
form which has the base of the stem of a 
distinct indigo-blue. It may not be a true 
variety, but it is the most dangerous form. 
This little species is included here because 
it was instrumental in poisoning two sets 
of children in the same year, and about 



90 EDIBLE AND POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 

two hundred miles apart. In both instances 
some of the fungi were found, of which the 
children had eaten in the fresh state, and 
they proved to be this species, of the form 
with the distinct blue base to the stem. 
Most probably all kinds are more poisonous 
when fresh, as the virus is of a volatile 
nature, and either partly diffused by heat 
or neutralized by salt. As this species is 
so very common, it should be widely known 
to parents and guardians, that children at 
play in the fields may be warned against 
putting in their mouths any of the little 
" toadstools ' which qtow amongst the 
grass. We cannot conceive that any sane 
person could ever collect and eat this 
singular little species under the impression 
that it was an available substitute for the 
Common Mushroom. It is so utterly unlike 
in appearance as well as in size. 



POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 91 



DUNG SLIMY CAPS. 

Agaricus (Strojiharia) semiglobatus. 

(Plate XL Fig. 3.) 

This familiar little fungus is common in 
every pasture upon dung, and would not 
be mentioned here save that it is reported 
that children have gathered of it and 
poisoned themselves. It has a long, straight, 
slender stem like a straw, four or five 
inches long, with a line, like a collar, above 
the middle. The pileus is hemispherical, 
about an inch broad, and pale yellow, 
covered, as well as the stem, with a glu- 
tinous slime. The gills are very broad, 
and grey, spotted with the dark purple- 
brown spores. It was Sowerby who drew 
attention to this species as dangerous, 
and intimated that it had been fatal. 
Since that period we are not aware of 
any further evidence against it. 

Other species have at various times been 
reputed to be poisonous or suspicious, but 



92 EDIBLE AND POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 

mostly on the faith of a disagreeable odour 
or taste, rather than from any distinct 
evidence. There are some which are so 
repulsive, from their foetid odour, that we 
consider that circumstance quite sufficient 
to prevent accident. Most people are not 
content to put into their mouths that which 
offends their noses. 



PL. 11. 




POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 



POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 93 



CLUSTERED PINK-GILLS. 

Agaricus (Entolomcu) sinuatus. 

(Plate XII. Fig. 1.) 

There is very little difference in topo- 
logical properties between this species and 
Agaricus fertilis, and botanically they are 
closely allied. The present species is the 
most common in autumn in woods, where 
it is found in large groups, consisting 
probably of twenty or thirty specimens. 
The pileus or cap is from four to six inches 
in expanse, at first convex, then flattened, 
with the edge split and turned up. It is 
of a greyish-white or pale grey colour, 
with a tinge of yellow, quite smooth, and 
often cracked when old. When three or 
four grow close together they are much 
contorted by mutual pressure. The gills 
are very broad, yellowish-pink, becoming 
pale reddish, with pinkish spores. The 
stem is solid, whitish, five to seven inches 
long, and nearly an inch thick, fibrillose, 



94 EDIBLE AND POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 

sometimes splitting, but without any collar 
or ring. It has a faint heavy odour, and 
like many other of the pink-spored species, 
decays rapidly. 

The other species, Agaricus fertilis, which 
nearly poisoned Mr. Worthington Smith 
and some of his family, is of about the 
same size, and grows also in woods, but 
the stem is somewhat scaly, and swollen 
at the base. The pileus becomes flat, with 
the edges turned down, and not upwards ; 
it is moreover powdery or downy, and pallid 
reddish. The gills are not so broad, and of 
a dull flesh colour. It is seldom otherwise 
than solitary, with a rather mealy smell. 
We have always been suspicious of the pink- 
spored species, but these two are evidently 
deserving of something more than suspicion, 
for they are veritably dangerous. 



POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 95 



STYPTIC SIDEFOOT. 

Partus stypticus. 

(Plate XII. Fig. 2.) . 

Old stumps and logs in woods often have 
a small fungus growing upon them with a 
short stem on one side, so as to be attached 
sideways, spreading out like a fan. They 
are not more than an inch across, and often 
less, but half-a-dozen will grow together 
in a cluster, overlapping each other. The 
surface is quite smooth, of a pale ochre or 
flesh colour, the thick-set gills on the under 
surface radiating from the thick stem. The 
substance is dry, with no particular odour, 
and would scarcely be noticed unless hunted 
for. This little species, however, enjoys a 
bad reputation, for although Smith only 
utters the caution that it had better be 
avoided, Dr. Lambotte asserts that it is 
distinctly dangerous, being a violent purga- 
tive. Were it not for this warning the 
plant is almost too insignificant to demand 



96 EDIBLE AND POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 

attention, as no sane person would collect 
such a minute object, no larger than a 
brace-button, for breakfast. A few large 
species that are found growing on dead 
trunks may be eaten, but it is always 
advisable to be upon guard against species 
which flourish on rotten wood, since so 
many of them are bitter and unpleasant, 
even if not distinctly injurious. 



PL, 12. 




POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 



POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 97 



CLUSTERED YELLOW MUSHROOM. 

Agaricus {Uypholomob) fascicularis. 

(Plate XIII. Fig. 1.) 

The above-named fungus is about the 

most common everywhere in the British 

Islands. It appears soon after midsummer, 

and lasts until destroyed by the frosts. 

Wholly confined to rotten wood, it grows 

on fallen trunks, logs, but chiefly on old 

stumps left in the ground, and forms dense 

clumps, sometimes two or three feet across. 

The cap is usually about an inch, but 

occasionally two inches, in diameter, of a 

sulphury yellow, reddish or brownish on the 

top, turning brown in decay, smooth and 

even. The stems are hollow and elongated, 

flexuous, and closely pressed together at 

the base, where they are brownish, but 

yellow in the upper portion. The gills 

have a dull greenish tinge, which lasts for 

a long time, at length becoming discoloured 

with the purple-brown spores. The odour 

a 



98 EDIBLE AND POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 

» 

is rather strong and heavy, and the taste 
very bitter and disagreeable. It is very 
usual to regard this as a poisonous species, 
but possibly it is not so in reality ; it is, 
however, so disagreeably bitter and un- 
pleasant, that we doubt if any one would 
eat sufficient of it, under any circumstances, 
to do them any grievous bodily harm. 

A very similar species (Agaricus subla- 
teritius) but with larger caps, the colour 
less yellow and more of a brick-red, grows 
also in large clumps on stumps. The 
inexperienced would hardly distinguish the 
difference, as the gills have the same 
olive tinge, and it is equally bitter and 
disagreeable. 



POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 99 



SULPHURY MUSHROOM. 

Agaricus (Tricholoma) sulphur eus. 

(Plate XIII. Fig. 2.) 

This yellow Agaric is by no means 
common, but it is very striking, and not 
readily overlooked. It is one of the white- 
spored series, notwithstanding the coloured 
gills. It is a woodland species, and grows 
upon the ground, either solitary or two or 
three in company. The pileus is from one to 
two or three inches broad, fleshy and convex, 
at length somewhat depressed, rather silky 
at first, but soon smooth, of a sulphury 
yellow colour, sometimes dingy or inclined 
to rufous. The stem is from two to three 
inches long, and of the same colour as the 
pileus ; the gills are rather thick and distant, 
bright yellow. The odour is strong, rather 
stinking, and unpleasant to the taste. Some 
have compared the scent to that of " gas-tar ' 
or creosote. It is hardly a species which 
is liable to be confounded with anything 



100 EDIBLE AND POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 

else or with, any species that is edible, 
and it presents so little attraction that 
we doubt if any one would be tempted 
to try it. Nevertheless it is reputed to 
be poisonous. 



POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 101 



GREEN SLIMY CAPS. 

Arjaricus (Stropharia) ceruginosus. 

(Plate XIII. Fig. 3.) 

ThePvE is something suspiciously adverse 
to esculent qualities in the slimy green 
Agaric above-named. It is common enough 
in woods amongst grass and dead leaves 
to be familiar, but it is not attractive. 
The pileus is usually about two inches 
broad and convex, covered with a verdigris 
slime, which is gradually washed away and 
leaves a pallid colour, which becomes of a 
warm brown about the apex. A few scaly 
white patches are at first attached about 
the margin, but these fall away with the 
gluten. The stem is rather slender and 
hollow, whitish, the lower portion scaly, 
with a distinct collar or ring just above 
the middle. The gills are of a dull brown, 
with a tinge of violet, and the spores of 
a purple-brown. As it is seen growing it 
is certainly rather handsome, but when 



102 EDIBLE AND POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 

gathered and handled it is certainly not 
enticing as an article of food, and we can 
hardly suppose any one imaginative enough 
to believe in its virtues. It is impossible 
to mistake it for any known edible species, 
and the only other greenish Agaric to 
be found in woods is the very fragrant 
Agaricus odorus, which is never slimy, has 
no collar to the stem, and possesses a most 
delightful odour of melilot, which adheres 
to it to the last. The Green Slimy Caps has 
the reputation of being poisonous, which is 
somewhat general on the Continent, but 
probably this is only assumed from its dis- 
agreeable taste and repulsive appearance 
rather than from any active property. 
Under any circumstances it should be 
avoided as a very suspicious character. 



PL. 13. 




POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 



POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 103 



MAGPIE MUSHROOM. 

Coprinus incacews. 

(Plate XIV. Fig. 1.) 

In some respects this resembles the Inky 
Mushroom, but it grows upon the ground 
singly, and not in tufts. It is found by 
roadsides and by-paths in woods, but is 
nowhere common. We have met with it 
in September, but the gills soon deliquesce 
and drop away in an inky fluid, and 
nothing is left of it but a black patch. 
The pileus is bell-shaped, at first pale, 
then the cuticle splits and adheres in 
irregular patches. As the gills become 
black, so the cap darkens, the thin sub- 
stance permitting the blackness to show 
through, until the cap is pied with light 
patches on a black stratum. The stem is 
straight and erect, about six inches long, 
a little bulbous at the base, and white, 
except where stained by the spores. As 
the gills deliquesce it acquires a foetid 



104 EDIBLE AND POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 

odour, and is in all respects uninviting. 
We are not at all satisfied that it is really 
poisonous, although it is a point scarce 
worth determining, for no one would think 
of eating it, were it ever so harmless, and 
it is too rare to be in any sense a public 
danger. Flies are usually seen hovering 
around this species, especially when in a 
state of decay, being attracted by its some- 
what unpleasant odour. When the gills 
drop away in an inky mass, the flies may be 
observed sucking it up. It has been affirmed 
that by such means the spores of this and 
other species are disseminated, so that for 
the perpetuation of the species they are 
indebted to the intermediation of flies, 
through whose bodies the spores themselves 
pass uninjured. 



POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 105 



WOOD WOOLLY FOOT 

Marasmius peronatus. 

(Plate XIV. Fig. 2.) 

This is supposed to be the woodland re- 
presentative of the Fairy King' Champignon, 
and persons have been often cautioned 
against confounding them, which is a libel 
on humanity, for they are nothing like 
each other. This species is autumnal, 
being plentiful in September and October, 
with a dry, dull umber-coloured pileus, 
about two inches in diameter, gills which 
are broad and rather distant, of almost the 
same colour, but with a slight tinge of 
purple, and an erect rigid stem, the lower 
half of which is clothed with a pale 
yellowish, shaggy wool. The spores are 
white, notwithstanding the dark gills. 
This species is reputed poisonous, and yet 
it is sometimes mild enough to the taste, 
when fresh. Like the Champignon, it is 
very tough and flexible, so that specimens 



106 EDIBLE AND POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 

may be carried loose without breaking. 
Unlike the Champignon, it always grows 
in woods and amongst dead leaves, and 
never forms rings or parts of rings. 

Another species, Marasmius urens, is 
always named with a caution, although 
we believe the true species to be very 
uncommon. It is a woodland species, and 
we believe always so, growing in tufts, 
the stem being downy to the top and 
woolly at the base, cap and gills similar 
to the preceding. Nearly all the specimens 
which we have seen called by this name are 
merely forms of M. peronatus, although 
it is really quite different, more persistently 
acrid, and csespitose. Both species should 
be avoided, because, if innocuous, they 
would be tough and indigestible. 



PL. 14. 




SONOUS MUSHROOMS. 



POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 107 



BITTER STRAW RUSSULE. 

Russula fettea. 

(Plate XV. Fig. 1.) 

This common Russule appears uuder 
trees plentifully throughout autumn. The 
pileus is about three inches in diameter, 
convex and flattened, a little darker in 
the centre, but otherwise the entire fungus, 
gills, stem, and internal substance are 
ochrey, or of the colour of straw. The 
stem is rather short and equal, and the 
flesh firm, but not elastic. There are 
several ochraceous species, but the tone 
of colour in this differs from all, and it 
appears to be always bitter to the taste 
when fresh. It is regarded as suspicious, 
and if not really poisonous, it seems to 
be quite unfit for food. We do not 
consider it dangerous. 

There is a very large Russule which 
is common in woods in August, which is 



108 EDIBLE AND POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 

darker than the above, almost dirty tan- 
colour, or foxy, and six inches in diameter, 
the margin coarsely sulcate with parallel 
channels, the elevated space between being 
coarsely tubercled. All parts are sticky, 
and rather brittle, but above all it has 
usually a very strong foetid odour, and 
is called Russula /ceteris. It is one of 
the species of which slugs seem to be 
particularly fond, for it is generally slug- 
eaten. We have said that it is usually 
foetid, but on two or three occasions we 
have found specimens of the same species, 
which cannot well be mistaken for any 
other, in which the odour was decidedly 
of a different character, being; fragrant and 
agreeable. We do not pretend to account 
for the circumstance, but merely record it 
as a fact. Apart from the very unpleasant 
odour and appearance it presents, we doubt 
this species being really noxious. 



POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 109 



ACRID MILK-MUSHROOM. 

Lactarius acris. 

(Plate XV. Fig. 2.) 

In so far as our experience goes this 
species is uncommon, having met with it 
very rarely during thirty years. It occurs 
in woods, and is probably sometimes con- 
founded with Lactarius fuliginosus. The 
pileus is of ' a dull, dark, sooty grey, and 
often irregular and viscid, seldom two 
inches broad, with a stem that is not un- 
commonly placed somewhat on one side, so 
that the cap is oblique ; it is pallid and 
attenuated downwards. The gills are rather 
crowded, and yellowish or tawny. When 
cut or bruised it yields a white milk, which 
is very acrid to the taste, and slowly becomes 
discoloured, chan^ino; to a dull reddish or 
neutral orange colour. This change is not 
so rapid as in many species, but ultimately 
takes place, and is a very good clue to the 
species. It is altogether a darker fungus 



110 EDIBLE AND POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 

than Lactarius pyrogalus, and is scarcely 
zoned at all, whereas the milk in the latter 
is persistently white, although equally acrid. 
Both are doubtless to be strictly avoided. 
The Milk-Mushrooms are easily distinguished 
by cutting or bruising, when the milk 
exudes plentifully from all parts. If this 
milk proves to be acrid, and biting to the 
tongue, it will be prudent to discard the 
funous at once. It will be safest never to 
conclude that a mushroom which possesses 
a milky juice is good for food, unless it is 
thoroughly well known and has a good 
reputation. 



POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. Ill 



SHAM MUSHROOM. 

Agaricus (Hebeloma) fastibilis. 

(Plate XV. Fig. 3.) 

On one or two occasions this fungus has 
come up in considerable quantities on mush- 
room-beds, and might have led to serious 
consequences had it not been detected. It 
is usually found growing in woods. The 
pileus is compact and fleshy, two inches 
and more across, smooth and tan-coloured 
or growing pallid, with a rather darker 
centre, the involute margin downy ; the 
stem two or three inches long and half an 
inch thick, thickened at the base, silky, and 
with a web-like ring ; gills rather broad and 
distant, pallid at first, then dusky, with 
dark brown spores, and the edge whitish. 
It is a very suspicious species, and has the 
reputation of being noxious, so that it is an 
unwelcome visitor when it appears on mush- 
room-beds. The deception is disclosed by 



112 EDIBLE AND POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 

the absence of the distinct membranaceous 
ring. 

A similar species resembles (rather than 
imitates) the St. George's Mushroom ; this 
is Ag. crustuliniformis, which is about the 
same size, but less robust and fleshy, darker 
in colour, resembling a cracknel, with dusky 
gills and dark brown spores. Instead of 
the very strong mushroomy odour of the 
St. George's Mushroom, it has a faint, dis- 
agreeable smell, and, to complete the decep- 
tion, it has the habit of coming up in rings, 
but it grows in woods and not in pastures, 
and comes up in the autumn instead of the 
spring. This also is a reputed deleterious 
species. 



PL. 15. 




POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 



POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 113 



EMETIC RUSSULE. 

Russula emetica. 

(Plate XYI. Fig. I.) 

The very name of this Russule seems to 
carry its own condemnation, which accords 
with the consensus of mycological opinion 
in Europe. It is an inhabitant of woods 
in the autumn, with a pileus about two or 
three inches in diameter, and but slightly 
convex. Its usual colour is of a rosy-pink, 
or bright red, and the thin cuticle easily 
separates, showing the red flesh beneath ; 
this is mostly relied upon to distinguish it 
from other red species. The substance is 
pure white and very fragile. The gills are 
also cpite white, and do not reach the 
stem, but leave a channel around it. The 
stem is spongy, and either white or tinged 
with red. There are no short gills between 
the longer ones, and the spores are white. 
This species is acrid to the palate, and is 
said to possess emetic properties, due to a 



114 EDIBLE AND POISONOUS MUSHEOOMS. 

principle called emetine. We know of no 
European authority which does not pro- 
nounce this species dangerous. Notwith- 
standing -this, an American writer says : " I 
am able to assert positively, from having 
eaten full meals of them often, that Russula 
emetica is as good as any Eussule." We 
must be permitted to doubt whether he has 
not been eating some other red species 
which is innocuous, and must continue 
sceptical until his experience is confirmed. 



POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 115 



FIERY MILK-MUSHROOM. 

Lactarius pyrogalus. 

(Plate XVI. Fig. 2.) 

This is one of the peppery species, which 
exudes a hot and fiery milk on being 
wounded. The pileus is about two inches 
broad, depressed in the middle, smooth, and 
of a livid grey colour, with darker zones ; 
the gills are dark yellowish, or almost tan- 
coloured, running down the hollow pallid 
stem ; the milk is very copious, and white. 
It is found chiefly in woods, and may be 
recognized by its colour, and that of the 
gills, whereas the spores are white. We 
are not disposed to champion this species, 
but rather to utter a strong caution against 
it, the universal opinion being in its con- 
demnation. 

Somewhat resembling the above in form, 
but of a bright reddish-brown colour, is 
Lactarius rufus, by no means common in 



116 EDIBLE AND POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 

woods, yielding a very acrid and biting 
white milk. It is affirmed to be one of the 
most deadly of British fungi, but we shall 
content ourselves with the general caution 
not to eat any of the milky fungi which 
yield an acrid or peppery juice. Indeed, if 
all the milky fungi were placed under the 
ban indiscriminately, it might be the most 
politic course to adopt. There are plenty 
of sound edible species without them. 



POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 117 



WOOLLY MILK-MUSHROOM. 

Lactarius torminosus. 

(Plate XVI. Fig. 3.) 

The chief danger associated with this 
mushroom is that of mistaking it for the 
Delicious Milk-Mushroom [Lactarius de- 
liciosus), which it somewhat resembles. 
It is common enough in some counties 
in autumn, in woods and on heaths, 
with a short stem, so that it grows close 
to the ground. The pileus is from three 
to four inches in diameter, convex, de- 
pressed in the centre, but with the woolly 
margin turned inwards. In colour it is 
usually a light brick-red or dingy orange, 
and -sometimes flesh-coloured, with darker 
zones. The margin is hairy and paler, 
almost white, and the gills whitish, with 
white spores. When cut or wounded a 
white milk exudes, which is acrid and biting 
to the tongue. By this feature it may be 
distinguished from the edible species above- 



118 EDIBLE AND POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 

named, in that the milk is white and does 
not change colour. Whether it will poison 
any one if eaten is rather uncertain, and 
probably assumed from the acrid quality of 
the milk. Some authors state that it is not 
poisonous, others that it is only suspected, 
and others, with whom we agree, that as it 
is doubtful it is better to abstain. 



PL. 16. 




'Fiery Milk Mushn 



POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 



POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 119 



WHITE WOOLLY MILK-MUSHKOOM. 

Lactarius vellereus. 

(Plate XVII. Fig. 1.) 

It is customary to find in woods the 
above-named very large chalky white fungus, 
usually several growing together. The pileus 
may be eight or nine inches across, depressed 
in the centre, and funnel-shaped, but with 
the edges bent over outwards, everywhere 
woolly with a very short down, and dirty- 
looking from the adhering soil, etc. ; the 
gills are broad, not very close, running 
down the stem. The latter is short and 
very thick, often two inches, and solid. 
The whole fungus is very firm, dense, and 
compact, yielding when bruised or broken 
a copious white acrid milk. Tradition 
affirms that this species is very poisonous, 
and we have been too well satisfied with 
tradition to try experiments. 

There is a similar white species equally 
common in woods at the same period of 



120 EDIBLE AND POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 

the year (Lactarius piperatus), which has 
been declared poisonous for the past fifty 
years. The pileus is quite smooth instead 
of woolly, the gills are narrower and 
close together, the milk is white and 
peppery, the stem very short and thick, 
and the pileus depressed, like a wine-glass, 
sometimes as much as six or eight inches 
in diameter. Is it really poisonous, or 
has it been only suspected on account of 
its acrid milk ? Many years ago the Rev. 
Dr. Curtis informed Berkeley that he 
constantly had eaten it in the United 
States without inconvenience, and found 
it excellent. Still more recently a corre- 
spondent in New Jersey writes distinctly 
that it is edible, for he has eaten it. These 
persons are competent judges of the true 
species, and quite as competent to pro- 
nounce on its properties, hence we conclude 
that it is not poisonous, although we class 
it with the poisonous species, because we 
are not prepared to recommend it without 
testing it. 



POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 121 



BITTER BOLETUS. 

Boletus felleus. 

(Plate XVII. Fig. 2.) 

Great bitterness seems to characterize 
many species of Agarics and some Boleti, 
on which account they have at once been 
regarded as poisonous, when we think that 
they should only have been ranked as unfit 
for food. Evidence tends to show that 
intense bitterness does not indicate that the 
species is poisonous, although it may render 
the fundus nauseous. The Bitter Boletus 
is not uncommon in some localities in 
autumn, inhabiting woodlands, and may 
be distinguished from other species by the 
flesh-coloured tubes and rosy spores. The 
pileus is usually about three inches broad, 
and convex, smooth and soft, of a yellowish- 
red or foxy colour, with a thick white flesh, 
which becomes of a dull flesh colour when 
broken. The under surface is convex and 
of a pale flesh colour, with irregular pores, 



122 EDIBLE AND POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 

which are angular and rather large. The 
stem is dingy yellow, thickened at the base, 
and reticulated above with a network of 
raised veins, usually darkest below. Every- 
where it is liable to become discoloured when 
bruised or broken. The taste is bitter, and 
although disagreeable and unfit to be eaten, 
doubtless its poisonous properties have been 
exaggerated. 



PL. 17. 




POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 



POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 123 



SATANIC BOLETUS. 

Boletus satanas. 

(Plate XVIII. Fig. 1.) 

This grows to be one of the largest and 
most splendid Boleti we possess, but it 
seems to be rather local. On one occasion 
we found twenty or thirty specimens 
growing together, some of which were a 
foot in diameter, eight or nine inches high, 
with a stem four inches thick, but they are 
often much smaller. It is autumnal, and 
favours rather open woods. The pileus 
is whitish or pale flesh colour, but soon 
discoloured, for it changes wherever bruised, 
and, being viscid, is generally ornamented 
by the adherence of dead leaves, twigs, and 
particles of soil. The under surface is very 
convex, yellowish, then red, blood-red, or 
crimson, punctured with myriads of pores. 
The stem is always thick and short, bright 
yellow or orange above, purplish-red below, 
and in the upper half reticulated with a 



124 EDIBLE AND POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 

network of delicate veins. When cut or 
broken the very thick flesh at once changes 
to deep violet blue, and every part changes 
in like manner when touched or bruised, so 
that its external beauty is soon marred. 
This Boletus finds a place in every book 
on poisonous fungi, and yet its toxicological 
properties are now being called in question, 
but we fear it will always remain open to 
suspicion until confirmatory evidence is 
produced. Mr. Mcllvaine says that as an 
article of food it is one of the best of the 
Boleti, whilst even the name suggests that 
it has ever been held to be one of the most 
dangerous. 



POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 125 



LURID BOLETUS. 

Boletus luridus. 

(Plate XVIII. Fig. 2.) 

In all books and lists this is set down 
as a poisonous species, and no one ever 
seems to have doubted it until an American 
correspondent wrote us that he had eaten 
this and Boletus satanas, and found them 
excellent. At present we are not disposed 
to follow his example. The cap, or pileus, 
is hemispherical, from three to six inches 
in diameter, and dull umber brown, finely 
velvety but rather viscid. The uuder 
surface is porous, orange or red, and some- 
times blood-red. The stem is thick, usually 
rather short, more or less orange above, 
and red or brown below, and either 
sprinkled with dots or with a network of 
delicate veins. The flesh is thick and firm, 
changing immediately, when cut or bruised, 
to indigo-blue in all parts except the base 
of the stem, which is reddish. Fries says 



126 EDIBLE AND POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 

that the taste is pleasant, but that it is 
certainly poisonous, and he figures it with 
his poisonous fungi of Sweden. It is by 
no means uncommon in woods in August 
and September, and may be known at once 
by the rapid change of its yellowish flesh 
to deep blue. There are one or two other 
species which are similar, and change in a 
like manner, but they are not so common, 
and may possibly be only varieties. It 
will always be safe not to eat any fungus 
which changes to blue when cut or broken, 
notwithstanding anything Brother Jonathan 
may say. 



THE END. 



Richard Clay <k Sons, Limited, London & Bungay. 



PL. 18. 





« I V, ' I ■ ai t i J /J 




w 



w 



Satan ■ 
.Boletus 



Lurid 
Boletus 




POISONOUS MUSHROOMS. 



W ' > ' 



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Her Father's Inheritance. 

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Hide and Seek. 

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A Story of Roman Carthage. By Mrs. Rundle 
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Love and Justice. 

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Mike. 

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Miscellanies of Animal Life. 

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Our Native Songsters. 

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